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Forest Mage (Soldier Son Series #2)

Forest Mage (Soldier Son Series #2)

3.7 73
by Robin Hobb

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Plague has ravaged the prestigious King's Cavalla of Gernia, decimating the ranks of both cadets and instructors. Yet Nevare Burvelle has made an astonishingly robust recovery, defeating his sworn nemesis while in the throes of the disease and freeing himself—he believes—from the Speck magic that infected him. And now he is journeying home to Widevale,


Plague has ravaged the prestigious King's Cavalla of Gernia, decimating the ranks of both cadets and instructors. Yet Nevare Burvelle has made an astonishingly robust recovery, defeating his sworn nemesis while in the throes of the disease and freeing himself—he believes—from the Speck magic that infected him. And now he is journeying home to Widevale, anticipating a tender reunion with his beautiful fiancée, Carsina, and a bright future as a commissioned officer.

But there is no haven in the bosom of his kinfolk, for his nights are haunted by grim visions of treachery—and his days are tormented by a strange side-effect of the plague that shames his family and repulses the lady of his heart. And as the still-potent magic in his blood roars to life, Nevare realizes a terrible truth: that the enemy who seeks to destroy everything he loves dwells perhaps not without but within him.

Editorial Reviews

The Barnes & Noble Review
Dark mysticism and primordial natural magic clash with the ever-expanding boundaries of the "civilized" world in the second volume of Robin Hobb's Soldier Son trilogy, Forest Mage.

The sequel to 2005's Shaman's Crossing finds protagonist Nevare Burvelle -- the second son of a nobleman and destined for a career in the military -- with his world turned upside down. After surviving a plague that wiped out many of the students and instructors at the king's military academy, Nevare returns home for his brother's wedding, only to learn that he has been medically discharged from the school. The plague usually leaves its survivors skeletally thin, but Nevare, inexplicably, has begun to gain massive amounts of weight. With his family believing he's a glutton, Nevare is disowned by his father and eventually ends up finding work as a lowly cemetery guard in a frontier town near the border with the Specks, a race of dapple-skinned forest dwellers who possess powerful natural magic. But in a world where technology never stops advancing, can the Specks survive? And what does the suddenly bloated Nevare have to do with their struggle?

Set in a sprawling, vividly described realm that is as majestic as it is menacing, and powered by some extremely topical themes (environmentalism, cultural homogenization, human rights, religious persecution, etc.), the Soldier Son trilogy is easily Hobb's most significant work to date. Incorporating elements of military fantasy, New Age spirituality, and political allegory, Forest Mage can be faulted only for suffering from a serious case of middle-volume syndrome: As the second installment of a trilogy, it lacks both a true beginning and a satisfactory ending. All will be forgotten, however, when the concluding volume (tentatively entitled Renegade Magic) of this unique and powerfully moving saga is released in 2007. Paul Goat Allen
Library Journal
Saved by magic from the plague, Nevare Burvelle returns home to family tragedy and the lure of an even more powerful magic; it tells you what to do. With a five-city tour. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
London Times
“Refreshing. . . . There’s a truthfulness to her creation that is lacking in some of the more slapdash fantasies.”

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HarperCollins Publishers
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Soldier Son Series , #2
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Forest Mage

Book Two of The Soldier Son Trilogy
By Robin Hobb

HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2006 Robin Hobb
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0060757639

Chapter One

Forest Dreams

There is a fragrance in the forest. It does not come from a single flower or leaf. It is not the rich aroma of dark crumbly earth or the sweetness of fruit that has passed from merely ripe to mellow and rich. The scent I recalled was a combination of all these things, and of sunlight touching and awakening their essences and of a very slight wind that blended them perfectly. She smelled like that.

We lay together in a bower. Above us, the distant top of the canopy swayed gently, and the beaming rays of sunlight danced over our bodies in time with them. Vines and creepers that draped from the stretching branches above our heads formed the sheltering walls of our forest pavilion. Deep moss cushioned my bare back, and her soft arm was my pillow. The vines curtained our trysting place with their foliage and large, pale green flowers. The sepals pushed past the fleshy lips of the blossoms and were heavy with yellow pollen. Large butterflies with wings of deep orange traced with black were investigating the flowers. One insect left a drooping blossom, alighted on my lover's shoulder, and walked over her soft dappled flesh. I watched it unfurl a coiled black tongue to taste the perspiration thatdewed the forest woman's skin, and envied it.

I lay in indescribable comfort, content beyond passion. I lifted a lazy hand to impede the butterfly's progress. Fearlessly, it stepped onto my fingers. I raised it to be an ornament in my lover's thick and tousled hair. She opened her eyes at my touch. She had hazel eyes, green mingling with soft brown. She smiled. I leaned up on my elbow and kissed her. Her ample breasts pressed against me, startling in their softness.

"I'm sorry," I said softly, tilting back from the kiss. "I'm so sorry I had to kill you."

Her eyes were sad but still fond. "I know," she replied. There was no rancor in her voice. "Be at peace with it, soldier's boy. All will come true as it was meant to be. You belong to the magic now, and whatever it must have you do, you will do."

"But I killed you. I loved you and I killed you."

She smiled gently. "Such as we do not die as others do."

"Do you yet live then?" I asked her. I pulled my body back from hers and looked down between us at the mound of her belly. It gave the lie to her words. My cavalla saber had slashed her wide open. Her entrails spilled from that gash and rested on the moss between us. They were pink and liverish-gray, coiling like fat worms. They had piled up against my bare legs, warm and slick. Her blood smeared my genitals. I tried to scream and could not. I struggled to push away from her, but we had grown fast together.


I woke with a shudder and sat up in my bunk, panting silently through my open mouth. A tall pale wraith stood over me. I gave a muted yelp before I recognized Trist. "You were whimpering in your sleep," Trist told me. I compulsively brushed at my thighs, and then lifted my hands close to my face. In the dim moonlight through the window, they were clean of blood.

"It was only a dream," Trist assured me.

"Sorry," I muttered, ashamed. "Sorry I was noisy."

"It's not like you're the only one to have nightmares." The thin cadet sat down on the foot of my bed. Once he had been whiplash-lean and limber. Now he was skeletal and moved like a stiff old man. He coughed twice and then caught his breath. "Know what I dream?" He didn't wait for my reply. "I dream I died of Speck plague. Because I did, you know. I was one of the ones who died, and then revived. But I dream that instead of holding my body in the infirmary, Dr. Amicas let them put me out with the corpses. In my dream, they toss me in the pit grave, and they throw the quicklime down on me. I dream I wake up down there, under all those bodies that stink of piss and vomit, with the lime burning into me. I try to climb out, but they just keep throwing more bodies down on top of me. I'm clawing and pushing my way past them, trying to get out of the pit through all that rotting flesh and bones. And then I realize that the body I'm climbing over is Nate. He's all dead and decaying, but he opens his eyes and he asks, 'Why me, Trist? Why me and not you?' " Trist gave a sudden shudder and huddled his shoulders.

"They're only dreams, Trist," I whispered. All around us, the other first-years who had survived the plague slumbered on. Someone coughed in his sleep. Someone else muttered, yipped like a puppy, and then grew still. Trist was right. Few of us slept well anymore. "They're only bad dreams. It's all over. The plague passed us by. We survived."

"Easy for you to say. You recovered. You're fit and hearty." He stood up. His nightshirt hung on his lanky frame. In the dim dormitory, his eyes were dark holes. "Maybe I survived, but the plague didn't pass me by. I'll live with what it did to me to the end of my days. You think I'll ever lead a charge, Nevare? I can barely manage to keep standing through morning assembly. I'm done as a soldier. Done before I started. I'll never live the life I expected to lead."

Trist stood up. He shuffled away from my bed and back to his. He was breathing noisily by the time he sat down on his bunk.

Slowly I lay back down. I heard Trist cough again, wheeze, and then lie down. It was no comfort to me . . .


Excerpted from Forest Mage by Robin Hobb Copyright © 2006 by Robin Hobb. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Robin Hobb was born in California but grew up in Alaska. It was there that she learned to love the forest and the wilderness. She has lived most of her life in the Pacific Northwest and currently resides in Tacoma, Washington. She is the author of five critically acclaimed fantasy series: The Rain Wilds Chronicles (Dragon Keeper, Dragon Haven, City of Dragons, Blood of Dragons), The Soldier Son Trilogy, The Tawny Man Trilogy, The Liveship Traders Trilogy, and The Farseer Trilogy. Under the name Megan Lindholm she is the author of The Wizard of the Pigeons, Windsingers, and Cloven Hooves. The Inheritance, a collection of stories, was published under both names. Her short fiction has won the Asimov's Readers' Award and she has been a finalist for both the Nebula and Hugo awards.

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Forest Mage 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 73 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
When I put down Forest Mage I was deeply disappointed, and had the sinking feeling that I'd just read a 700-page book in which nothing of consequence happened. In retrospect, this wasn't true, but it certainly felt like it because for the last 300 pages, there is very little development, and the ending was horrifically predictable. Nevare made stupid decision after stupid decision, and even when you can see problems coming down the road with 200 pages left to read, Nevare does nothing until they blow up in his face. Hobb, whose Farseer Trilogy remains my favorite trilogy of all time, even steals one of the plot devices she used in the second book of that trilogy to end this one. I'll still read the third book of the series, but I think 200-300 pages could have been cut from this book. While those pages were used to establish Nevare's character, I think I would have liked him better if I didn't read those 200 pages of him either whining or procrastinating.
Guest More than 1 year ago
All right, the majority of the reviews here bash this book and say its slow and depressing. In that, they are right. But, as you read, it is clear that all of the action is building up and up and up, and in the last few chapters, it explodes and leaves you going 'WHAT???' Robin Hobb has crafted this book to draw out and enlarge the conflict(s) that Nevare has to confront, and how in the end he cannot run away from them try though he might. Bascially, this second book in the series lays the groundwork for the explosive conclusion to this trilogy that I personally cannot wait for. My theory is that you have to wade through the unpleasantness first to get the gold.
Anonymous 6 days ago
I was pretty disappointed in this one. I honestly wouldn't recommend it
Tahniask More than 1 year ago
This was outstandingly the worst fantasy I have ever read. The plot was terrible and just went on and on and on. Then at the end of the series it turns out that it's all just erased from his life? He's thin again and his love comes back, etc. etc. I wish I'd never picked it up. That said, I love all her other books.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Wordy and repetitive! Slow character development. Too busy laying groundwork for next book in trilogy! Readable but disappointing if you like a quick pace. Read all three, would not recommend and will not save in my nook or reread!
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kiltpin1 More than 1 year ago
I have become a hardcore Robin Hobb fan. She writes like Van Gogh paints or Emeril Lagasse cooks. You will be sure to experience all of the subtle nuances and rich vivid details as she weaves her stories. I love reading fantasy and I thought that I had read the best, but where as Gabaldon and Paolini are exceptional, Robin Hobb is 'the master'. You will not be disappointed with this or any of her other books. The ultimate experience of course will be to be sure to read any of her trilogy or series books in the proper order as they just continue to build in detail and intensity as they go. Check it out, you won't be sorry.
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